Xs and Arrows
October 24, 2020
In the coming weeks, an important landmark in my career will be destroyed. Call it progress, call it redevelopment, call it the future, but for now I will simply call it a heartbreak.
While we are currently located four hours north of this landmark, many understand the importance of a stadium and remember the moments they shared inside its walls, this landmark is Qualcomm Stadium, also known by its original moniker of "Jack Murphy Stadium" and last known as San Diego County Credit Union Stadium in San Diego. I will always refer to it as "The Q."
It was the home of the San Diego Padres, Chargers, San Diego State Aztecs football and famously hosted the Holiday Bowl for decades. It has been home to the World Series, Superbowls and too many events to count. It was my home too from the late 1990s as a new San Diego resident and lifelong baseball fan just excited to be living in a city with a Major League Baseball team. It helped that in 1998 the Padres made an improbable run to the World Series. I was there every step of the way attending at least one game of every series from August-October, including much of the playoffs.
For the next three years the Padres were not as competitive, but the draw of that stadium for a baseball fan remained. I spent many spring and summer evenings in those seats, preferably sitting in right field behind the legendary Tony Gwynn, but I have seen games from every level, plaza and concourse. I caught batting practice homeruns and I once had a warmup baseball from the centerfielder find its way into my hands as well. These are all keepsakes prominently displayed in my home.
About a decade later, after the Padres moved into shinier new digs in Downtown San Diego, I returned not as a fan, but as a working professional in the sports industry. At the time, my radio station in Bakersfield was the home of the San Diego Chargers broadcasts. In 2010 they happened to draft a Tehachapi Youth Football turned West (Bakersfield) High School running back named Ryan Mathews. With that came our station's desire to follow the Chargers, more-specifically Mathews, even closer. I spent a week at their training camp that season and had the opportunity to get on the field at The Q during an evening practice. I'll never forget feeling the size of that building when standing at ground level.
From that came weeks of covering Chargers games, spending many games in the press box, locker rooms and occasionally the sidelines. I got to know the character as well as the limitations of that facility. Completely understanding the Chargers' desire for a new stadium, although politics between special interests would lead to a rejection of that idea and the Chargers moving north to Los Angeles.
I remember my first and my last game at that stadium. The first was as an 18-year-old kid walking off the San Diego Trolley into one of the last remaining multi-use municipal stadiums in America. The last was a Thursday night Chargers game on national television between a pair of struggling teams. I even attempted to scalp tickets during the 1998 MLB Divisional Series when a friend came to town and my one ticket was no longer adequate. Instead of selling, we ended up trading one ticket and some cash for two tickets in one of the highest rows in the stadium, but boy was it rocking that night.
I believe enough San Diego natives have moved to Tehachapi to share in my moment of silence for this former sports landmark that will soon be redeveloped. In my other profession, I completely understand and support what is being undertaken. This 65,000-seat elderly facility will soon be replaced with a mixed-use residential/commercial development complete with a smaller stadium that will host San Diego State Football and potentially Major League Soccer. It is a massive site with plenty of potential and I am excited to see the future.
That future however does not replace the sadness that will inevitably be present as they press that demolition button in a few weeks. A college friend of mine happens to have an office overlooking the site. He has promised to video his angle and shed a tear alongside me as our concrete friend disappears into a pile of unrecognizable rubble.
Although it was imperfectly perfect, it stands as a key facility in my career in sports. I cheered there, worked there and built some great memories along the way. That 18-year-old kid that walked off the train into the gates has grown up, and now those gates will be no longer, but the appreciation for what a concrete structure can provide will never be lost.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. He can be reached at [email protected] Read more content at http://www.CostelloeMedia.com.